Updated: Jul 27, 2021
Warning: This post contains violent content.
The discovery of the bodies of 215 children on the grounds of the Kamloops IRS has opened wounds in the hearts of many, if not all, FNMI (First Nations, Metis, and Inuit), and have called many Christians to repentance. As a Christian First Nations person, I have often been faced with the question of “how could you become one of them after all they did?” Let me explain.
By the time I was seven I, and my siblings were apprehended as a part of the sixties scoop. My brothers were put into foster care, but I was put up for adoption under AIM (Adopt Indian and Metis) program. An older couple who practiced the Jehovah’s Witness faith took me into their home and the adoption process began. At first, they treated me well implementing a healthy diet and routine. However, their food was foreign to me, and I did not always want to eat it. Like any other child of that age, I attempted to hide it, so I could be excused from the dinner table.
One day, my would-be adopted mom discovered this, and pulled out a wooden spoon. She beat my hands so bad that when I went to school the next day, I was not able to hold a pencil in my bruised and swollen fingers. The beatings did not stop there. Every day I came home from school, and she had a different reason for beating me. I began to throw up from the stress, then she accused me of faking an illness, resulting in her pulling me down the hallway by my hair to stick my head in the toilet, telling me to throw up right there in front of her.
On Sundays, they would take me door to door with them, forcing me to tell others about the greatness of Jehovah God. Refusing to do this bought me a beating on more than one occasion. One day my adoptive mother was especially angry, forcing my pants down, she laid my bare buttocks over the edge of the bed. She beat me with a belt and when I refused to cry, she turned the belt around and hit me with the buckle end. When the belt dug into my flesh, I cried out for Jehovah God to save me. She said, “Jehovah God will never save you; he doesn’t love people like you.” Those words penetrated my heart, my soul, and still hang in the air around me today.
Before long, I was taken by Children Services and moved to another home where I was abused in all kinds of ways, so when a childhood friend invited me to Sunday School it was a no brainer. I did not know much about God or Jesus, but I knew I needed a way to get out of that house for at least a few hours each week and this was it. Pastor Delgatty would gather all the children at the front of the church, and we would stomp and clap out the words to Father Abraham before going downstairs for a lesson. These were the best days of my childhood. These days saved my life and my psyche.
However, I have to acknowledge those who turned away from Christianity because of all the things that were done to them and their parents in the name of Jesus. I, like them, was beaten in the name of God. I was told that God would never love me, he would never save me, but he did. He saved me many times from dangerous situations I encountered as a runaway that got involved with the wrong people. The people that beat me were Jehovah's Witnesses and to this day, more than forty years later, I will not have much to do with anyone of that faith. So, I get it. I understand that the hurt and intense emotions felt towards people who hurt our ourselves and our loved ones in the name of Jesus, but these people were using a false identity.
Our perpetrators may have identified with Jesus, but Jesus did not identify with them. The love of God did not live in the hearts of these people. Jesus had nothing to do with the actions of our perpetrators. They had no love. This is a case in which we need to keep the message and pray that one day we will have the heart to forgive the messenger. We can find evidence of this within the pages of the Bible.
Jesus said, “the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbour as you love yourself,” yet, they clearly did not love us.
Jesus also said, “let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,” yet, they hindered our children.
The ten commandments state, “Thou Shalt Not Covet”, “Thou Shalt Not Steal”, “Thou Shalt Not Commit Murder”, “Thou Shalt Not Lie”.
Yet, they coveted our land, then they stole our land, our children, our culture, and our way of life. Then, they murdered our children, and they lied about all of it…and ALL OF THESE THINGS WERE DONE IN THE NAME OF JESUS, and now they want us to forgive.
So let us forgive them so we will not carry these wounds in our hearts, but forgiveness does not mean we have to adopt their ways. Forgiveness does not mean we have to put ourselves and our children back in the line of their fire.
Many of our people walked with Creator before they came, we had our own Ceremonies, customs, cultures, and ways of being. We even had our own governments, trade routes and treaties. We smudged daily and lived our lives in balance by the teachings of the medicine wheel. We lived in harmony with all creation, and gave away our most valued possessions, so our possessions would not own us. We listened carefully to the teachings of our elders that taught us that all creation has a relationship with Creator that we know nothing about, and we should consider them to be our brothers and sisters; this includes our white, yellow, and black relations, who, along with us comprise the four nations of the earth.
However, some of our people became afraid of the dark spirits, and began to appease them, because they knew while Creator would do us no harm, the dark spirits would. We had no protection, and so made offerings to appease them.
Like a piece of bruised fruit, we must cut away the bad and feed on what is good. The settlers had to come, so they could tell us about Creator’s son whose blood would offer us protection without sacrifice, without appeasing the dark spirits. But when the settlers came, their hearts filled with greed, and his son got left on the boat. They spoke words but did not honor them with their actions.
They did not understand that we are all made in God’s image.They saw us as ugly, but we were beautiful. The saw us as worthless, but we were worthy. They gave us alcohol then called us drunkards. They raped our children, then called us savage. After they took away our way of being, they called us lazy. They thought themselves to be superior, but if their ways of being are superior, then let me be inferior.
In one hundred thirty-five years, they tried to destroy us, but our elders preserved our ways and our ways of being. We survived, and now, we must thrive. We must regain our walk with Creator Whu’ta and accept his son, but we can do this without giving up our own culture. Creator is bigger than culture. He loves walking in relationship with all creation and all cultures. He loves it when First Nations people live in Ceremony with him.
In my language, the name for Jesus is Tsi’ze. We can see him in ourselves, in our children, and in all creation. We live in relationship with him through Ceremony, Tsi’ze offers us the protection of his sacrifice of his own body and blood. Let us do away with the hateful ways of those who persecuted us by learning from the past and moving forward from it.
Our children that died as a result of the Indian Residential Schools and Sixties Scoop have gone to be with our ancestors. They are practicing our ways and are living in Ceremony with Creator. Let us too, live our lives in Ceremony, walking with Creator.
The Eagle signifies relationship with Creator as he flies higher than any other bird. Eagles fly high above the clouds, above the storm. This is how we are to live our lives. We are to stay close to Creator, high above the storms of life, focused on Creator, so we do not even notice lightening that strikes and deafening thunder. Right now, the storm is all around us and the thunder from the cries of Creator is deafening us as he weeps from the injustice.
In Creator's love, may you find peace.
COURTESY ARCHIVES DESCHÂTELETS-NDC, RICHELIEU